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Ranking the bowls from worst to first

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You have to love bowl games and college football to watch some of the bowl games coming our way in the next month. Here's a worst-to-first glimpse at the full lineup:

35. GoDaddy.com Bowl

Jan. 6; Mobile, Ala.; 8 p.m. EST, ESPN

Miami (Ohio) vs. Middle Tennessee

Three reasons to watch: 1) It's the Mid-American Conference champion. Miami University is an interesting watch with a decent short-passing game and an aggressive defense. 2) Will Dwight Dasher be Dwight Dasher? The Middle Tennessee quarterback was the star of the New Orleans Bowl last year. 3) Between the two teams, six of their past eight games were decided by six points or fewer.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: It's Miami University vs. Middle Tennessee. Last year's GMAC Bowl, now the GoDaddy, was the best game of the bowl season, but traditionally this has been the ugliest blowout of the lot.

Three names to drop that will make you sound more knowledgeable than you are: 1) DE Jamari Lattimore, Middle Tennessee. 2) WR Armand Robinson, Miami University. 3) RB Phillip Tanner, Middle Tennessee.

Gut-reaction pick that might change in the next few days on a whim: Miami University 26, Middle Tennessee 17

34. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Dec. 18; New Orleans; 9 p.m.; ESPN

Troy vs. Ohio

Three reasons to watch: 1) Troy has played two straight great bowl games. The offense always puts on a show. 2) Ohio's running game should go nuts against the Troy defensive front. 3) Sun Belt vs. MAC. For those of you who care, this is a bragging rights game for the leagues.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Ohio is extremely boring. The offense is 94th in the nation and doesn't throw. Troy might have won a share of the Sun Belt title, but this isn't nearly the same team of the past few years.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Corey Robinson, Troy. 2) DB Donovan Fletcher, Ohio. 3) WR/KR Jerrel Jernigan, Troy.

Gut-reaction pick: Troy 31, Ohio 20

33. Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Dec. 26; Detroit; 8:30 p.m.; ESPN

Toledo vs. Florida International

Three reasons to watch: 1) It's FIU getting to a bowl game in the biggest game in the program's history. It will bring the A effort. 2) Toledo might be the second-best team in the MAC. It's better than the champ, Miami University. 3) Aggressiveness. Both defenses are good at getting to the quarterback.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: It's Florida International vs. Toledo. If this was on an October Wednesday night, you'd be playing with the kids.

Three names to drop: 1) WR/KR T.Y. Hilton, FIU. 2) WR/KR Eric Page, Toledo. 3) S Jonathan Cyprien, FIU.

Gut-reaction pick: Toledo 31, FIU 17

32. New Mexico Bowl

Dec. 18; Albuquerque, N.M.; 2 p.m.; ESPN

BYU vs. UTEP

Three reasons to watch: 1) Jake Heaps. The BYU freshman quarterback was one of the nation's top recruits, and this is the next step in the maturation process. 2) It's UTEP's first bowl game since 2005. It's going to care. 3) UTEP QB Trevor Vittatoe has the experience and potential to come up with a great final game.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: UTEP isn't very good. It lost five of the last six games of the year and doesn't have much offensive pop. If BYU's defense rocks out of the gate, this might not be close.

Three names to drop: 1) RB J.J. Di Luigi, BYU. 2) WR Kris Adams, UTEP. 3) DE Vic So'oto, BYU.

Gut-reaction pick: BYU 34, UTEP 10

31. Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl

Dec. 30; San Diego; 10 p.m.; ESPN

Nebraska vs. Washington

Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Locker

Washington quarterback Jake Locker Otto Greule Jr

Three reasons to watch: 1) Jake Locker. Can he make amends for his disastrous first 2010 performance vs. Nebraska? 2) Can Nebraska come up with another dominant bowl performance? A win would make the Huskers hot going into the Big Ten. 3) This is Washington's first bowl game since 2002

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: 56-21. In Seattle. Locker completed 4 of 20 passes, and three Huskers ran for more than 100 yards. This might be the dumbest bowl rematch ever.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska. 2) RB Chris Polk, Washington. 3) LB Lavonte David, Nebraska.

Gut-reaction pick: Nebraska 45, Washington 10

30. uDrove Humanitarian Bowl

Dec. 18; Boise, Idaho; 5:30 p.m.; ESPN

Fresno State vs. Northern Illinois

Three reasons to watch: 1) The NIU running game really is special, even if it didn't show it against Miami University in the MAC championship choke. 2) The Fresno State defensive front is among the most active and the most productive at getting into the backfield as any in the nation. 3) It's a sneaky-good matchup. NIU really is the MAC's best team, while Fresno State has the explosiveness on offense to make this an offensive show. The Humanitarian Bowl has been among the most competitive of all the bowls the past several years.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: NIU might be down after the MAC championship and with head coach Jerry Kill leaving for Minnesota. Fresno State doesn't have a consistent attack.

Three names to drop: 1) RB Chad Spann, NIU. 2) DE Chris Carter, Fresno State. 3) RB Robbie Rouse, Fresno State.

Gut-reaction pick: Fresno State 27, Northern Illinois 20

29. Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl

Dec. 30; Fort Worth, Texas; noon; ESPN

SMU vs. Army

Three reasons to watch: 1) 1996. That was the last time Army was in a bowl game, and it's going to always bring the A effort. 2) There should be a buzz. Between the Army factor and the home crowd for SMU, this won't be an empty bowl. 3) Both teams can play a little offense. It will be an interesting contrast in styles, with the SMU passing game vs. the Army ground attack.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: The SMU run defense isn't bad, and Army can't throw a lick. If SMU plays like it did in a blowout Hawaii Bowl performance over Nevada last year, this could be a big bowl of yuck.

Three names to drop: 1) RB Zach Line, SMU. 2) FB Jared Hassin, Army. 3) QB Kyle Padron, SMU.

Gut-reaction pick: SMU 31, Army 10

28. New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Dec. 30; New York; 3:20 p.m.; ESPN

Syracuse vs. Kansas State

Three reasons to watch: 1) It's a true cold-weather, outside game. 2) Syracuse is back in a bowl game for the first time since 2004 and Kansas State is back in a bowl for the first time since Bill Snyder returned. 3) Daniel Thomas. For you NFL scout types, this will be a great test for the Kansas State running back to show he's a top-50 player.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Syracuse doesn't score. The Orange have scored 26 points in the past three games and are 106th in the nation in total offense.

Three names to drop: 1) RB Delone Carter, Syracuse. 2) S Tysyn Hartman, Kansas State. 3) LB Derrell Smith, Syracuse.

Gut-reaction pick: Syracuse 20, Kansas State 17

27. Hyundai Sun Bowl

Dec. 31; El Paso, Texas; 2 p.m.; CBS

Miami vs. Notre Dame

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o

Jonathan Daniel/

Three reasons to watch: 1) It's Miami vs. Notre Dame. It sounds good on paper and it will generate a buzz and national interest. 2) The Irish ended the regular season well with three straight wins, including a win over USC. 3) Miami's pass defense and pass rush are among the best in the nation.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: The matchup sounds good, but neither team is all that great at playing college football. It might be a close game, but it won't be played at a high level. Miami's bigger concern is at head coach.

Three names to drop: 1) DE Allen Bailey, Miami. 2) LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame. 3) WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami.

Gut-reaction pick: Miami 23, Notre Dame 17

26. Meineke Car Care Bowl

Dec. 31; Charlotte, N.C.; noon; ESPN

South Florida vs. Clemson

Three reasons to watch: 1) Clemson is better than its 6-6 record. The Tigers took Auburn to overtime. 2) Skip Holtz will have his USF team pumped up. The defense should be strong with a month to prepare. 3) Three of the past four Meineke Car Care Bowls have been terrific. Those three games were decided by a total of four points.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Neither team does much on offense. USF is 103rd in the nation in total yards, and Clemson is 87th.

Three names to drop: 1) DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson. 2) QB B.J. Daniels, South Florida. 3) WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson.

Gut-reaction pick: Clemson 23, South Florida 20

25. BBVA Compass Bowl

Jan. 8; Birmingham, Ala.; noon; ESPN

Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky

Three reasons to watch: 1) It's a new era at Pitt with coach Dave Wannstedt resigning/getting canned. The team wasn't that bad, winning five of its last seven regular-season games. 2) Kentucky has its share of big-play stars. WR Randall Cobb and RB Derrick Locke are two of the best players you probably haven't seen. 3) Offense. UK is 26th in the nation in total offense, and Pitt's attack is better than the stats.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Kentucky had one great fourth quarter against South Carolina. The second-best win came against Louisville. The third-best win was Vanderbilt. Pitt's best win was either South Florida or Louisville ... whoopee.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Mike Hartline, Kentucky. 2) RB Dion Lewis, Pitt. 3) LB Danny Trevathan, Kentucky.

Gut-reaction pick: Pitt 23, Kentucky 20

24. TicketCity Bowl

Jan. 1; Dallas; noon; ESPNU

Northwestern vs. Texas Tech

Three reasons to watch: 1) Northwestern is going for its first bowl win ever. 2) Texas Tech finished the season relatively hot, winning three of the last four regular-season games, with a win over Missouri and the lone loss coming at Oklahoma. 3) It's the inaugural TicketCity Bowl. Be there for history!

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Northwestern has been miserable over the second half of the season and got next-level bad after losing QB Dan Persa.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Taylor Potts, Texas Tech. 2) DE Vince Browne, Northwestern. 3) LB Brian Duncan, Texas Tech.

Gut-reaction pick: Texas Tech 45, Northwestern 20

23. AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Dec. 31; Memphis; 3:30 p.m.; ESPN

Central Florida vs. Georgia

Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green

Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green

Kevin C. Cox

Three reasons to watch: 1) Can the best team in Conference USA match up with a lower-level SEC team? Conference USA needs this. 2) A.J. Green. Enjoy your last chance to see the phenomenal Bulldogs wide receiver before he goes off to the NFL. 3) The Liberty Bowl has been great recently with each of the past six games decided by eight or fewer points.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: As good as UCF might be, it's still SEC vs. Conference USA.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Jeff Godfrey, UCF. 2) LB/DE Justin Houston, Georgia. 3) DE Bruce Miller, UCF.

Gut-reaction pick: Georgia 24, UCF 13

22. Beef 'O' Brady’s Bowl

Dec. 21; St. Petersburg, Fla.; 8 p.m.; ESPN

Louisville vs. Southern Miss

Three reasons to watch: 1) It's the return to the bowl season for Louisville, which made a big statement in Charlie Strong's initial head coaching season. 2) The Southern Miss offense is fantastic, the defense stinks. This might be a shootout. 3) The Big East needs this, and the C-USA team wants to make a statement. Both teams will try.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: The first two St. Petersburg Bowls were awful. The Big East won both games in blowouts.

Three names to drop: 1) RB Bilal Powell, Louisville. 2) QB Austin Davis, Southern Miss. 3) RB/KR Vic Anderson, Louisville.

Gut-reaction pick: Louisville 38, Southern Miss 20

21. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Dec. 30; Nashville, Tenn.; 6:30 p.m.; ESPN

North Carolina vs. Tennessee

Three reasons to watch: 1) Tennessee comes into the game hot, on a four-game winning streak. 2) This is a momentum game for each program. The winner will use this over and over again to pump up the potential for 2011. 3) The bowl is usually pretty good. The past six games have been decided by eight points or fewer.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Tennessee won its last four games, against the weak and the sad. The offense might not have the pop to keep up if UNC gets rolling.

Three names to drop: 1) LB Bruce Carter, North Carolina. 2) WR Denarius Moore, Tennessee. 3) QB T.J. Yates, North Carolina.

Gut-reaction pick: North Carolina 27, Tennessee 17

20. Champs Sports Bowl

Dec. 28; Orlando, Fla.; 6:30 p.m.; ESPN

North Carolina State vs. West Virginia

Three reasons to watch: 1) Defense. Even if it's not all that thrilling, the game should be extremely close, with the score kept low. 2) The Mountaineers might really have the Big East's best team. The West Virginia D hasn't allowed more than 21 points all year. 3) Both conferences need this. The Big East could use all the good wins it can get, and the Atlantic Coast Conference is always looking for more respect. Both teams will try in what should be a good, tough game.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: The Champs Sports Bowl is usually a dog. This isn't going to be an offensive thrill ride.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Russell Wilson, N.C. State. 2) DE Bruce Irvin, West Virginia. 3) QB Geno Smith, West Virginia.

Gut-reaction pick: West Virginia 21, N.C. State 17

19. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Jan. 9; San Francisco; 9 p.m.; ESPN

Boston College vs. Nevada

Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick

Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick

Three reasons to watch: 1) Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick and RB Vai Taua form the greatest rushing tandem in the history of college football. Kaepernick is one of third players to run for 20 touchdowns and throw for 20 in the same season. The others are Tim Tebow and Cam Newton. 2) Led by Luke Kuechly, the BC defense is good enough to keep the Wolf Pack O in check. It will be strength vs. strength. BC is No. 1 in the nation against the run, Nevada is No. 3 running the ball. 3) BC has won five straight games. Nevada has won six straight, including a win over Boise State.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Nevada has been a disaster in bowl games lately, losing its past four postseason trips and getting embarrassed by SMU last year and New Mexico two years ago.

Three names to drop: 1) DE Dontay Moch, Nevada. 2) RB Montel Harris, Boston College. 3) WR Rishard Matthews, Nevada.

Gut-reaction pick: Boston College 24, Nevada 20

18. Texas Bowl

Dec. 29; Houston; 6 p.m.; ESPN

Illinois vs. Baylor

Three reasons to watch: 1) Running quarterbacks. Baylor's Robert Griffin and Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase are worth the watch. 2) Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure. There's a chance he could be the highest-rising running back in the draft and he could be another Rashard Mendenhall. 3) 1994. That's the last time Baylor was in a bowl game. This is a really big deal for the program.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: The Texas Bowl doesn't have the best history. It was among the worst bowl games of the past two seasons.

Three names to drop: 1) RB Jay Finley, Baylor. 2) LB Martez Wilson, Illinois. 3) WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois.

Gut-reaction pick: Baylor 34, Illinois 30

17. Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman

Dec. 29; Washington, D.C.; 2:30 p.m.; ESPN

Maryland vs. East Carolina

Three reasons to watch: 1) East Carolina doesn't play any defense. That's a good thing for a bowl game. This should be a fun and wild shootout. 2) Maryland will be pumped up to be back in a bowl game after a 2-10 2009 season. ECU will be interested in beating an ACC team. 3) Maryland WR/KR Torrey Smith might be the best player you haven't seen. ECU QB Dominique Davis might be No. 2.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: East Carolina's defense is so bad and Maryland is so good in the turnover margin that the Terps could make this a blowout.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Danny O'Brien, Maryland. 2) WR Dwayne Harris, East Carolina. 3) LB Alex Wujciak, Maryland.

Gut-reaction pick: Maryland 44, East Carolina 27

16. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

Jan. 1; Glendale, Ariz.; 8:30 p.m.; ABC

Oklahoma vs. Connecticut

Three reasons to watch: 1) Connecticut isn't as bad as it will be made out to be. It doesn't have a passing game, but the ground game and defense are fantastic. The team is 3-1 in bowls since 2004. 2) Oklahoma will care. The Sooners will hear for a month about how past teams gagged away Fiesta Bowl losses to West Virginia in 2008 and Boise State in 2007. 3) UConn's Jordan Todman might be the best running back in the country. There's a chance that he controls the game and the Huskies make this a shocker.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Michigan 30, Connecticut 10. It might have been the opening game of the year, but the Huskies couldn't move the ball on Michigan. Their offense is 96th in the nation. If OU gets up early, this won't be pretty.

Three names to drop: 1) DE Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma. 2) LB Lawrence Wilson, UConn. 3) LB Travis Lewis, Oklahoma.

Gut-reaction pick: Oklahoma 34, Connecticut 16

15. Outback Bowl

Jan. 1; Tampa, Fla.; 1 p.m.; ABC

Penn State vs. Florida

Florida coach Urban Meyer

Florida coach Urban Meyer Doug Benc

Three reasons to watch: 1) It sounds fantastic. Penn State vs. Florida will be an excellent game ... next year. Both teams are young and improving. 2) It's the Big Ten vs. SEC. The two mighty programs might be shadows of their former selves, but the game will generate a ton of interest. 3) If you care about the coaches, Joe Paterno vs. Urban Meyer is the matchup.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Neither team is that great. Neither one can generate any consistent offense.

Three names to drop: 1) S Ahmad Black, Florida. 2) RB Evan Royster, Penn State. 3) CB Janoris Jenkins, Florida.

Gut-reaction pick: Florida 26, Penn State 17

14. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Dec. 23; San Diego; 8 p.m.,; ESPN

San Diego State vs. Navy

Three reasons to watch: 1) The Navy offense is always worth the price of admission. The SDSU defense is good enough to make it interesting. 2) SDSU has an NFL-caliber passing game with QB Ryan Lindley and WRs Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson all capable of becoming backups at the next level. 3) Interesting home battle. Navy in San Diego always gets a crowd, and the Aztecs will be fired up to be in their first bowl since 1998.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Since becoming a regular bowl team, Navy has played in only two interesting bowl games. It has either blown teams out, like Colorado State in the 2005 Poinsettia and Missouri in the 2009 Texas, or it sputtered, as in a loss to Wake Forest in the 2008 EagleBank.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Ricky Dobbs, Navy. 2) QB Ryan Lindley, San Diego State. 3) RB Ronnie Hillman, RB San Diego State.

Gut-reaction pick: San Diego State 38, Navy 27

13. Chick-fil-A Bowl

Dec. 31; Atlanta; 7:30 p.m.; ESPN

Florida State vs. South Carolina

Three reasons to watch: 1) It's a really, really solid matchup between the losers of the ACC and SEC championships. 2) Stepping-stone game. Each team is expected to be good in 2011, and the winner will be red-hot going into the offseason. 3) It's the last college football game of 2010.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: The Chick-fil-A Bowl has been awful ... AWFUL ... the past several years. There have been only two decent games in the past eight, and the other six were miserable blowouts.

Three names to drop: 1) WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina. 2) QB Christian Ponder, Florida State. 3) RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina.

Gut-reaction pick: Florida State 31, South Carolina 21

12. Insight Bowl

Dec. 28; Tempe, Ariz.; 10 p.m.; ESPN

Iowa vs. Missouri

Three reasons to watch: 1) Both teams will be motivated. Iowa will look to bounce back after a bad second half of the season, while Missouri will look to erase the memory of last year's lifeless Texas Bowl loss to Navy. 2) It's a nice Big 12-Big Ten showdown that will be used for the message board types in several offseason arguments. 3) Missouri might be the best team in the Big 12 North, even with the loss to Nebraska. Iowa is better than 7-5.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: What if Iowa really is as bad as it looked during the last month of the regular season? If you lose to Northwestern and Minnesota, there's a chance you might not be very good. Missouri might be 10-2, but it's not like it set the world on fire over the second half of the season.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri. 2) DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa. 3) DE Aldon Smith, Missouri.

Gut-reaction pick: Iowa 24, Missouri 14

11. MAACO Las Vegas Bowl

Dec. 22; Las Vegas; 8 p.m.; ESPN

Utah vs. Boise State

Three reasons to watch: 1) There was a time this year when this would have been a top-five matchup and would  have been the big game of whatever week. 2) Statement time. Boise State might be disappointed, but it's going to want to show it really is a top-five team. Utah wants to show it can beat someone good. 3) Boise State leads the nation in sacks. Utah is fifth in the nation in sacks allowed.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: The Las Vegas Bowl is usually a clunker. The Utah offense clunked during the second half of the year and won't have QB Jordan Wynn.

Three names to drop: 1) RB Doug Martin, Boise State. 2) WR/PR Shaky Smithson, Utah. 3) WR Titus Young, Boise State.

Gut-reaction pick: Boise State 45, Utah 20

10. Advocare V100 Independence Bowl

Dec. 27; Shreveport, La.; 5 p.m.; ESPN

Air Force vs. Georgia Tech

Three reasons to watch: 1) Running game, running game, running game. Georgia Tech is No. 1 in the nation, and Air Force is No. 2. 2) Four of the past five Air Force bowl games have been decided by a touchdown or less. 3) This isn't an exaggeration. This might be a historic bowl game. There might be only 15 passes thrown.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Georgia Tech hasn't been all that strong, losing four of its past five games. The Yellow Jackets beat North Carolina, and that's been it. This isn't last year's Orange Bowl team.

Three names to drop: 1) RB Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech. 2) QB Tim Jefferson, Air Force. 3) LB Brad Jefferson, Georgia Tech.

Gut-reaction pick: Air Force 30, Georgia Tech 26

9. Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Dec. 24; Honolulu; 8 p.m.; ESPN

Tulsa vs. Hawaii

Three reasons to watch: 1) Offense. Hawaii is first in the nation in passing. 2) Offense. Tulsa is fifth in the nation in yards. 3) Offense. The two teams should combine for 100 points.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: If you have any interest in defense, turn away. There's a chance that one team's offense is hot and the other's isn't.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Bryant Moniz, Hawaii. 2) QB G.J. Kinne, Tulsa. 3) WR Greg Salas, Hawaii.

Gut-reaction pick: Hawaii 55, Tulsa 50

8. Valero Alamo Bowl

Dec. 29; San Antonio; 9 p.m.; ESPN

Oklahoma State vs. Arizona

Three reasons to watch: 1) Passing. Oklahoma State is first in the nation in yards and second in passing. Arizona is ninth in the nation in passing yards. Expect 800 yards through the air between the two teams. 2) Justin Blackmon. The Cowboys star is the best wide receiver in America. 3) The Pac-10 needs this. There aren't that many of the league's teams in bowl games, and this is a must win. After getting pantsed by Nebraska in last year's Holiday Bowl, the Wildcats need to show up.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Arizona lost its last four games of the regular season and hasn't been sharp. The Wildcats might have a great offense, but they could be outbombed.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Nick Foles, Arizona. 2) QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State. 3) RB Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State.

Gut-reaction pick: Oklahoma State 44, Arizona 30

7. Gator Bowl

Jan. 1; Jacksonville, Fla.; 1:30 p.m.; ESPN2

Michigan vs. Mississippi State

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez

Jonathan Daniel

Three reasons to watch: 1) If you like running games, this is for you. Both teams like to run the spread with the speed of the Michigan attack vs. the power of MSU. 2) The Wolverines offense is always worth a watch. Denard Robinson will be healthy. 3) The Wolverines defense is always worth the watch. MSU can bank on at least 250 rushing yards.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: If Mississippi State's defense shows up, this could be a statement for the SEC.

Three names to drop: 1) QB Chris Relf, Mississippi State. 2) WR Roy Roundtree, Michigan. 3) LB Chris White, Mississippi State.

Gut-reaction pick: Michigan 38, Mississippi State 35

6. Discover Orange Bowl

Jan. 3; Miami; 8 p.m.; ABC

Virginia Tech vs. Stanford

Three reasons to watch: 1) There are some who believe Stanford might just be the second-best team in the country. This is a tough, physical team that should match up well with the tough, physical Hokies. 2) Andrew Luck. He's the most talented player in America and will be the No. 1 pick in the draft whenever he's ready to leave. 3) Virginia Tech is better than you think. Yes, the James Madison game was a hangover after the Boise State loss. Had the Hokies held on late against the Broncos, they'd probably be coming into this game 13-0.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Stanford's best win this year was at Notre Dame. There's a chance the Cardinal isn't anywhere near as good as the hype. Only one of Virginia Tech's 11 straight victories was by single digits.

Three names to drop: 1) LB Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech. 2) C Chase Beeler, Stanford. 3) CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech.

Gut-reaction pick: Virginia Tech 24, Stanford 20

5. Capital One Bowl

Jan. 1; Orlando, Fla.; 1 p.m.; ABC

Michigan State vs. Alabama

Three reasons to watch: 1) This could be a BCS game and no one would complain. Call this the Sugar Bowl Lite. 2) The Capital One Bowl is usually great. Eight of the past 11 have been decided by one score. 3) There's a chance that MSU comes in first up with something to prove, while Alabama might want to play at a high level to get rid of the taste of the Iron Bowl.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Neither team really wants to be here. Michigan State thinks it should be in the BCS, and Alabama isn't in the BCS Championship. If either team comes in moping, it could get ugly.

Three names to drop: 1) WR Julio Jones, Alabama. 2) LB Greg Jones, Michigan State. 3) S Mark Barron, Alabama.

Gut-reaction pick: Alabama 23, Michigan State 20

4. AT&T Cotton Bowl

Jan. 7; Arlington, Texas; 8 p.m.; FOX

Texas A&M vs. LSU

Three reasons to watch: 1) Is Texas A&M for real? One of the hottest teams during the second half of the season, it gets a chance to come up with a win over an SEC team for the first time in 15 years. 2) Is LSU for real? After a wildly inconsistent 10-2 season, the Tigers need to finish up with a bowl win after blowing a chance at a BCS game with a loss to Arkansas. 3) The two defenses are among the most aggressive and effective in the nation. The respective pass rushes are fantastic.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: It's the We Lost Big Games To Arkansas club. Texas A&M has been a dog with fleas in the bowls, losing its past four and eight of the past nine. LSU has won four of its past five and 10 of its past 13 bowl games.

Three names to drop: 1) CB Patrick Peterson, LSU. 2)DE/LB Von Miller, Texas A&M. 3) DT Drake Nevis, LSU.

Gut-reaction pick: LSU 23, Texas A&M 14

3. BCS Championship

Jan. 10; Glendale, Ariz.; 8 p.m.; ABC

Auburn vs. Oregon

Three reasons to watch: 1) The running games. The high-octane Oregon ground attack is fourth in the nation, and Auburn's is sixth. Oregon is second in the nation in total offense, and Auburn is seventh. 2) It's Cam Newton on the biggest stage. Already cranking out one of the greatest seasons in college football history, this could make him a true legend. From here on, future quarterbacks with mobility and the talent to carry a team on his shoulders will be compared to Newton and not Vince Young. LaMichael James is pretty good, too. The best running back in the country gets his chance to shine, too. 3) Is Oregon for real? Can Auburn finish the drill and give the SEC another title? It's the national championship.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Oregon's one win of note this year was over Stanford. Stanford's one win this year was over ... Notre Dame? There's a chance that the Ducks are about to be exposed, but there's also a chance that the Auburn of the first half of the Iron Bowl shows up. Oregon's average margin of victory is more than 30 points per game. Auburn's is just more than 18.

Three names to drop: 1) DT Nick Fairley, Auburn. 2) WR Jeff Maehl, Oregon. 3) WR Darvin Adams, Auburn.

Gut-reaction pick: Auburn 38, Oregon 23

2. Allstate Sugar Bowl

Jan. 4; New Orleans; 8 p.m.; ABC

Arkansas vs. Ohio State

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez

Arkansas quarterback Ryan MallettStreeter Lecka

Three reasons to watch: 1) It's the SEC vs. Big Ten game of the year. Ohio State will try to exorcise its SEC demons, while Arkansas will take a huge step forward with a win. 2) Terrelle Pryor vs. Ryan Mallett. There might not be a better quarterback matchup this bowl season. 3) Arkansas is No. 3 in the nation in passing offense, Ohio State is No. 2 in the nation in total defense and No. 4 against the pass.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: Arkansas has lost 12 of its past 15 bowl games. It won last year, but it took overtime to get by East Carolina. Ohio State is 0-9 vs. the SEC in bowls.

Three names to drop: 1) CB Chimdi Chekwa, Ohio State. 2) RB Knile Davis, Arkansas. 3) DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State.

Gut-reaction pick: Ohio State 31, Arkansas 27

1. Rose Bowl

Jan. 1; Pasadena, Calif.; 4:30 p.m.; ABC

Wisconsin vs. TCU

Three reasons to watch: 1) With a few breaks, this could have been for the national championship. The game should be electric, even for the Rose Bowl, with Badgers fans packing the house and Texas Christian fans jacked up for a game even bigger than last year's Fiesta Bowl. 2) Each team will be looking to make a statement. The winner might finish the year No. 2. 3) Who has been hotter than Wisconsin to close out the year? TCU, you wanted a shot at the big boys, this is it.

Why you should spend your time roasting chestnuts: TCU hasn't faced an offensive line anywhere near as physical as Wisconsin's. With the time off, the Badgers will have a healthy John Clay again in the backfield.

Three names to drop: 1) DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin. 2) WR Jeremy Kerley, TCU. 3) OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin.

Gut-reaction pick: Wisconsin 27, TCU 17

Tagged: Troy, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Maryland, Boston College, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Miami (FL), Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan State, Boise State, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Arizona, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi State, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Tulsa, Texas Christian, Southern Methodist, Hawaii, UTEP, Fresno State, Nevada, Middle Tennessee State, Navy, Connecticut, UCF, Notre Dame, Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas State, East Carolina, Army, Louisville, Memphis, Air Force, Utah, Brigham Young, San Diego State, Florida International, South Florida, Nick Fairley, Eric Page, Taylor Martinez, Tim Jefferson, Bruce Taylor, A.J. Jenkins, Roy Roundtree, Bruce Carter, Jake Locker, Bruce Miller, Taylor Potts, Titus Young, Lawrence Wilson, Brad Jefferson, Derrick Locke, Dominique Davis, Delone Carter, Derrell Smith, Torrey Smith, Vince Browne, Dan Persa, Ryan Mallett, Chris Relf, Martez Wilson, Aldon Smith, Russell Wilson, Ryan Lindley, Jeff Maehl, Justin Houston, Nick Foles, Greg Jones, Chris Carter, Greg Jones, Chris Polk, Knile Davis, Jeff Godfrey, Geno Smith, Denard Robinson, Corey Robinson, Bruce Irvin, Cam Newton

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